Don McLean Blasts UCLA After Award Is Withdrawn

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Last week the UCLA Student Alumni Association announced that it would present its George and Ira Gershwin Award to singer-songwriter Don McLean, whose 1971 #1 hit “American Pie” has long been considered a cultural touchstone.

Now that’s not happening. On May 6, the university rescinded the honor, citing McLean’s 2016 guilty plea to domestic violence assault charges. At the time, McLean was accused of assaulting his wife. The charges were later dismissed in a plea agreement. McLean and his ex, Patrisha McLean, have since divorced.

Still, the school stood by its decision, stating in its announcement of the withdrawal of the award that it “rejects any behavior including violence and the threat of violence.” The award was to have been presented on May 17. Previous recipients include The Who, Tom Petty, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, Frank Sinatra and Alanis Morissette.

Don McLean

McLean, 73, did not take well to UCLA’s withdrawal of the award. In a tweet posted on May 6, he wrote, “Dear UCLA, you awarded me your George and Ira Gershwin life time achievement award and then took it back because you found out about my squabble with my ex wife. This has been all over the internet for 3 years. Are you people morons? This is settled law. Maybe I need to give you some bribe money to grease the college wheels. Don’t ever come near me again unless you offer me an apology for the damage you have done me. I am guilty of nothing to do with assault and you had better make that clear. We live in a dark age of accusation and not law.”

Related: The true story behind “American Pie”

The George and Ira Gershwin Award was created in 1988 in recognition of the sibling songwriters, whose songs include “I Got Rhythm” and “Summertime,” and their financial contributions to UCLA. At the time that McLean was announced as the latest recipient, he said, “I am such a great lover and admirer of the work of the Gershwins that to receive this award is a thrill. In popular music the modernism of their music put them in a class by themselves.”

Meanwhile, McLean announced that he will perform at Graceland, Elvis Presely’s former Memphis home, on Father’s Day, June 15.

Don McLean Tour Dates (Buy tickets here or here)

JUN 07 – South Orange Performing Arts Center / South Orange, N.J.
JUN 15 – Graceland LIVE / Memphis, Tenn.
JUN 29 – Cape Fear Community College / Wilmington, N.C.
JUL 03 – Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa / Catoosa, Okla.
JUL 20 – Ponte Verda Concert Hall / Ponte Verda Beach, Fla.
JUL 27 – Dosey Does / The Woodlands, Texas
AUG 02 – The Rose / Pasadena, Calif.
AUG 03 – The Canyon / Montclair, Calif.
AUG 16 – Ojai Libbey Bowl / Ojai, Calif.
AUG 17 – Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center / Valencia, Calif.
AUG 26 – Live at Amsterdamse Bos / Amsterdam, Holland
AUG 27 – Snape Maltings Concert Hall / Saxmundham, U.K.
AUG 29 – Middlesbrough Town Hall / Middlesbrough, U.K.
AUG 31 – Southport Theatre & Convention Center / Southport, U.K.
SEP 01 – Moseley Folk & Arts Festival / Birmingham, U.K.
SEP 08 – Rams Head On Stage / Annapolis, Md.
SEP 20 – The Cabot / Beverly, Mass.
SEP 21 – Tupelo Music Hall / Derry, N.H.
OCT 04 – Golden Nugget Casino / Las Vegas, Nev.
OCT 06 – Coach House Concert Hall / San Juan Capristrano, Calif.

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